I would have loved to have reread The Hound of the Baskervilles before this, but I was in a hurry to get to the ARC of Pirate King that was waiting. Next time – because these are definitely books I will reread now and then as time goes by.
It’s great fun to watch the investigation into new reports of spectral happenings on the Moor, punctuated by Holmes’s disgust with the common man’s susceptibility and Russell’s very private never-spoken niggling question as to whether in such a weird (in the classical sense) place as this the supernatural might not be real. But best of all is the emotion in the story: another glimpse of Holmes the human being, the fierce friend.
The Moor is a prime example of why this series isn’t mere fan-fiction, why it rises above the level of most pastiche. I’ll probably grow repetitious with these reviews, but so be it: Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes is beautifully true to Doyle’s, having realistically aged since the last of the original stories, and having found a new lease on life. LRK knows the world she’s writing in, both the real world of the 1920’s and the earlier London and its environs of the original stories and books – knows it well enough that she can move so confidently from, as here, London to Yorkshire that the reader never questions a detail. Generally the books in the Holmes and Russell series pay only passing homage to the original works; obviously The Moor is a law unto itself. In more ways than one. And honestly, who could resist doing honor to The Hound? It’s such a beautiful opportunity to both tie the progenitor and the offspring together and to create the distance this Holmes desires between the things that man Doyle wrote about him and what an intelligent and loving wife would set down. And it also ties together the fictional hero and the man who wrote his “biography”, Sabine Baring Gould, in a lovely manner.
Yes, I’m the one who constantly complains, bitterly, about the use of real people as characters in fiction (as well as the use of other people’s characters). But there is a world of difference between the Jane Austen, Lady Detective books (not to mention Jane Austen, Vampire or whatever) and this sort of treatment. This was … wish fulfillment, in a way. Like the Doctor Who episode Vincent and the Doctor – which was something of a valentine to the artist, not so much never-was-or-could-be as an I-wish-this-could-have-been (and I really do) – it’s a lovely thing to imagine that this great aficionado of Holmes, Sabine Baring-Gould, was in fact the detective’s old and valued friend. I think he would have loved it. As with the setting and Holmes himself, it is obvious that LRK knows what she is talking about inside and out, and has the utmost respect for both the fictional and the actual. It’s what makes the series not only tolerable but wonderful.
- The Beekeeper’s Apprentice – Laurie R. King (agoldoffish.wordpress.com)
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